Jim Kremer, Adairsville’s third-year head coach, remembers a game where he did not rest easy throughout.
“The score did not indicate the struggles we had with ’em last year. We jumped on ’em 28-7 last year,” said Kremer whose team allowed the Vikings to get within 28-21 by halftime.
“Part of that team’s legacy was we had a tendency to relax,” he added of last season’s Tigers team. “We did eventually put ’em away in the fourth quarter, but it was a struggle. It was not the most relaxing game I’ve ever coached in my life.”
Back to cause even more headaches for Kremer and his Adairsville team is East Hall running back Jamond Witt, who had runs of 77 and 72 yards for touchdowns last year.
“They got a very, very fast back,” Kremer said of the 5-foot-10, 165-pound Witt. “He’s back this year. He’s a sophomore. He broke out on us.”
The Vikings (2-1) are coming off a 48-0 loss to Elbert County, while the Tigers (3-0) ground Sonoraville into submission, 38-14, behind superb special teams play — which included two punt return touchdowns by Trey Gulledge and a punt block from Zach Coker.
Kremer said his team, which won its first game 17-14 on Dakota Hines’ game-winning field goal, has routinely won in an area he deemed important at the start of the season.
“I think we’ve won the kicking game without a doubt the first three games,” he added. “We have dominated every kicking game … So far nobody’s returned the ball on us [because] Jake [Powell] kicks the ball so high.”
Powell is averaging 39 or 40 yards per punt, and kickers Gabriel Lopez and Hines are preventing as many return chances as possible on kickoffs.
“That goes along with having two kickers that are now sophomores instead of freshmen,” Kremer said of the extra year of development for his two kickers.
The one special teams unit that could use improvement is the kick return team, the Adairsville coach admitted.
“Our kickoff return has not been as good as I’d like it, but they [other teams] have a tendency to kick away from some of our kids,” Kremer said.
The punt return team proved how dangerous it can be with Gulledge scoring touchdowns from nearly 40 and 60 yards out.
The Tigers are averaging 25 yards per punt return, Kremer said.
In addition to its special teams play, Adairsville has dominated all phases of the game, its coach said, which have allowed for some big wins.
But even with the game tight, the Tigers have not folded.
“I’m seeing some [games where] we’ve been down a couple times and not pushed the panic button … and we’ve been up a few times and kept applying pressure,” Kremer said. “I keep preaching to them [about] throwing [down] the hammer. You just hope we’ll be in [that] position down the road.”
Tonight’s non-region game between Region 7A-AA’s Adairsville and Region 8A-AA’s East Hall is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff in Tiger Valley.
The Tigers last began a season 4-0 in 1988 when they opened with a home win against Cass followed by road victories over Pepperell, Coosa and LaFayette. Adairsville, which was in Region 7-AA North at the time, went on to finish 9-2 with its final loss coming to Rockmart in the region semifinals.
— Information from the Georgia High School Football Historians Association was used in this article.